Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) is a clinical syndrome representing many types of cancers and diagnoses are typically made after review of clinical presentation, pathology (including immunohistochemical staining) and imaging studies. Treatment with systemic chemotherapy has been shown to result in fairly reproducible objective response rates. Herein, a case of a patient who was initially diagnosed with a poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma of unknown origin is reported. After mRNA gene expression profiling (commercially available CancerTYPE ID), a specific diagnosis of papillary renal cell carcinoma (RCC) was made and then confirmed with additional immunohistochemical staining. The patient was treated with targeted therapy and an objective radiographic response was seen. A literature review suggests this to be the first patient with papillary RCC, identified by molecular profiling, and benefitting from a targeted agent that otherwise would not have been considered in the setting of CUP. This case underscores the importance of considering the use of newer testing technologies in the interest of offering patients more specific, targeted therapy in order to improve efficacy and spare patients toxicities of less specific, empiric chemotherapeutic regimens.